IPMA International Project Management Association
5 November 2018 / 9:32

Australia – The state of play in Project Management

Like many other countries, Australia is also witnessing an increasing utilisation of project management to drive business prosperity, deliver investment into public infrastructure, and introducing new products and services to the markets. Together with KPMG, the Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM) conducted the Australian Project Management Survey 2018. Both partners strongly believe that improving the national capability to effectively deliver significant and complex projects is of critical importance to driving Australia forward. Thus, this year´s survey is the first of a longitudinal view of changing practices, attitudes, and performance of projects.

The purpose for running projects are to refresh infrastructure (9%), to meet compliance of regulatory requirements (10%), to support organisational change (10%), to introduce new products and services (10%), to develop new infrastructure (15%) and to grow revenue (19%). Given the context of reliance on projects and project management as a discipline to achieve results, it is critical to see positive outcomes from this space. However, the survey highlights relatively poor performance. Only 30% of the projects are on time, 36% on budget, 45% meet stakeholders satisfaction and 47% meet the original goal and business intent.

While project management tools are widespread, some of the underpinning disciplines are not being consistently applied. For example, only 36% of project managers in organisations apply risk management throughout the lifecycle of a project and only 62% implement recovery actions to address time and cost variations. 68% of the respondents include change management capabilities as part of the project establishment, however, only 26% rate this capability as being very or extremely effective.

The survey confirms the importance of developing skills in a VUCA world. However, only 49% of organisations have formal project management skill reviews, only 30% have a formal organisational development programme for project managers, and only 15% have a defined project management career path. The skills most lacking in organisations are not technical project management skills, but rather wider business skills necessary to navigate complex organisational dynamics.

Project portfolio management activities are widespread, already more than 60% of organisations are using respective practices. They benefit from more efficient resource utilisation, more effective implementation of programmes, enhanced transparency and governance as well as greater visibility of overall commitments. Furthermore, it became clear, that organisations delivering consistently successful projects are more likely to engage sponsors in the process, and have processes in place to support and train them.

Successful organisations in Australia typically have an enterprise PMO overseeing project delivery; they have an emphasis on PM career and skills development; they are more likely to have formal benefits management processes in place, and project sponsors and leaders are actively engaged in the delivery of projects. Improving these aspects is key in developing the organisation´s capabilities for delivering the intended results through projects and programmes. The survey highlights that there is still a lot to do in Australia – and this is obviously true for organisations all around the world!

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Reinhard Wagner

Author of this post

Reinhard Wagner has been active for more than 30 years in the field of project- related leadership, in such diverse sectors as Air Defense, Automotive Engineering, and Machinery, as well as various not-for-profit organizations. As a Certified Projects Director (IPMA Level A), he has proven experience in managing projects, programmes and project portfolios in complex and dynamic contexts. He is also an IPMA Certified Programme and Portfolio Management Consultant, and as such supports senior executives in developing and improving their organizational competence in managing projects. For more than 15 years, he has been actively involved in the development of project, programme and portfolio management standards, for example as Convenor of the ISO 21500 “Guidance on Project Management” and the ISO 21503 “Guidance on Programme Management”. Reinhard Wagner is Past President of IPMA and Chairman of the Council, Honorary Chairman of GPM (the German Project Management Association), as well as Managing Director of Tiba Managementberatung GmbH.